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The Moral Responsibility of Firms - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Moral Responsibility of Firms

Eric W. Orts and N. Craig Smith


A perennial question in business ethics concerns the extent to which business firms and organizations have moral responsibilities—or not. In philosophical terms, the question is whether organizations themselves have “moral agency.” The view that firms possess moral qualities of this kind is strongly advocated by a number of leading scholars. An opposing view maintains that only individual human beings can be said correctly to have moral and ethical responsibilities. This book brings together the strongest voices on both sides of this important debate. The contributions here illustrate the lead ... More

Keywords: business ethics, moral responsibility, moral agency, corporate criminality, corporate social responsibility, legal and ethical culpability, BP, Volkswagen

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2017 Print ISBN-13: 9780198738534
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2017 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198738534.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Eric W. Orts, editor
Guardsmark Professor; Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics and Management; Director, Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

N. Craig Smith, editor
Chaired Professor of Ethics and Social Responsibility, INSEAD

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N. Craig Smith

Part I Arguments for Moral Responsibility of Firms

2 The Intentions of a Group

Michael E. Bratman

4 Pluralistic Functionalism about Corporate Agency

Waheed Hussain and Joakim Sandberg

Part II Arguments against Moral Responsibility of Firms

7 On (Not) Attributing Moral Responsibility to Organizations

David Rönnegard and Manuel Velasquez

Part III New Directions in Moral Responsibility of Firms


Eric W. Orts

End Matter